Best DSLR cameras in 2022: our top picks of full-frame and crop-sensor bodies

Best DSLR cameras: Image shows man using DSLR next to lake
(Image credit: Getty)

The best DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras are still desired by many photographers of varying disciplines. They became the most popular type of digital camera back in the early to mid-2000s which continued for around two decades and were notable for allowing interchangeable lenses on the same body, something which is not possible on prior digital compact cameras.

The debate now exists between DSLR cameras v mirrorless cameras and that debate is relentless. The smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras are seemingly slowly overtaking in popularity and becoming the preferred purchase. The heritage and reliability of DSLRs however, should not be overlooked.

It doesn't matter whether you're a beginner or a professional photographer looking for a new shooting companion, they definitely shouldn't be discounted as an option. The best DSLR cameras still rank highly in our best cameras for astrophotography guide, we firmly believe they can still hold their own, especially in this particular field. We discuss this in our 'Should you buy a DSLR' article.

With Black Friday coming on November 25, retailers could offer sizable discounts on some of the best DSLR cameras. It's also common to see early Black Friday deals so if you're looking to snap up one of the best DSLR cameras, now could be the best time to bag a bargain. 

DSLR cameras are generally a little larger and heavier than other types of cameras but they aren't as bulky and obnoxious as they once were or at least perceived to be so don't let this put you off. Some photographers prefer the chunky feel in the hand to a lightweight mirrorless. Owning one of the best DSLR cameras will help you achieve your desired photography results, regardless of experience or ability.

You can still check out our round-up of the best beginner cameras if this is your first camera, or check out our best camera deals guide to see if you can grab a bargain. Being skywatchers and astrophotographers, we really love DSLRs, if you want to see the rundown of the best DSLR cameras then stay on this page.

If you're lured by the competition, a mirrorless camera, then look at our best mirrorless cameras guide instead where we round up our favorites. 

Best early Black Friday DSLR cameras deal, live right now!

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Nikon D850 (opens in new tab)

Nikon D850 $2996.95, now $2496.95 from Adorama (opens in new tab)

Pick up our favorite all-rounder, and one of the best DSLRs of all time: the Nikon D850. It's been further reduced by an additional $300 this month with a huge $500 discount from both Amazon (opens in new tab) and Adorama (opens in new tab).

Best DSLR cameras in 2022

Side profile of the Nikon D850

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
An absolute powerhouse of a DSLR that outperforms many modern mirrorless cameras

Specifications

Sensor details: 35.9 mm x 23.9 mm CMOS
Megapixels: 45.7MP
Lens mount: F-mount FX
Screen details: 3.2” LCD, 2359K dots
Max burst speed: 9FPS
Max video resolution: 4K UHD

Reasons to buy

+
Insane stills resolution
+
Blisteringly fast autofocus 

Reasons to avoid

-
Face AF not as sophisticated as eye AF
-
9FPS only possible with MB-D18 battery pack 

The D850 is possibly one of the best DSLR's of all time alongside the likes of the pro-level, expensive Nikon D6 (opens in new tab). It was first released in 2017 and offers 45.7MP still photos at up to 9FPS (when using a dedicated battery grip, without this it is 7FPS). The buffering speed is not as fast as some of the other models in this guide, but one must bear in mind that this is 9FPS of full-resolution stills images at 45.7MP — these images are absolutely huge and the resolution is insane!

This camera certainly isn't cheap, but if you're someone who needs likes to switch between capturing stills and shooting video, the D850 is worth a serious look as it also shoots in 4K UHD, as well as jaw-dropping 8K time-lapse movies.

There isn't a specific style of photography that this camera lends itself to more than others, because, to put it simply, it can do anything. We reviewed the D850 and loved the astrophotography-friendly features such as backlit buttons, excellent low light autofocus, and good ISO noise handling capabilities. Because it is compatible with almost every F-mount lens, there is a huge library of lenses to pick from to suit your requirements.

This camera is extensively weather-sealed, and even the battery grip is protected from dust and water ingress. The Nikon D850 is a camera you can take anywhere, for any occasion, and get maximum results without fretting about the elements or dust. It would be happy in any of the best locations for astrophotography and skywatching.


Nikon D780 top view of camera

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
This lowlight and video beast is perfect for astrophotography, but also excels at capturing fast action

Specifications

Sensor details: 35.9 mm x 23.9 mm CMOS
Megapixels: 24.5MP
Lens mount: F-mount FX
Screen details: 3.2” LCD, 2359K dots
Max burst speed: 12FPS
Max video resolution: 4K UHD

Reasons to buy

+
High 12FPS burst speed
+
Astounding results in low light and astro
+
Large, detailed rear LCD monitor 

Reasons to avoid

-
Middling stills resolution 
-
Easy to accidentally lock controls

Another Nikon here, and deservingly so. The D780 supersedes the magnificent D750 (opens in new tab) and is aimed at professionals and serious enthusiasts with a handsome budget. Despite its relatively small form factor compared with other DSLRs, it builds on its predecessor's specs, and features a more detailed rear screen with a massive 2359K dots and a huge maximum burst speed of 12FPS. This makes it the perfect DSLR companion for wildlife, sports and action photography. It shoots 4K UHD video with 10-bit N-log recording and 12 stops of dynamic range. It can also shoot at 120FPS for (5x) slow-motion footage.

As well as an admirable burst speed, the D780 is also a low-light master, and we put it to the test in our comprehensive Nikon D780 review. The ISO range expands to an eye-watering 204,800 and the noise reduction algorithms are impeccable at keeping the images clean. In addition, its lowlight-specific autofocus ability can drop the camera's autofocus range for accurate AF as low as -7EV when live view is activated. 

To summarize, this camera is especially useful for astrophotography, but an excellent performer across all disciplines.


Canon EOS 90D

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon EOS 90D

This APS-C DSLR shoots fast and with exquisite detail, perfect for sports or action

Specifications

Sensor details: 22.3mm x 14.8mm CMOS
Megapixels: 32.5MP
Lens mount: EF, EF-S
Screen details: 3” LCD, 1040K dots
Max burst speed: 10FPS
Max video resolution: 4K UHD

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning all-round stills and video performance 
+
Analogue lovers will appreciate optical viewfinder 

Reasons to avoid

-
Buffer quite slow for 10FPS 
-
Only 4K UHD video resolution 

Crop sensor DSLRs benefit from the perceived extra zoom afforded by the 1.5/1.6x effective crop. That's exactly where Canon excels with this powerhouse of a camera which is aimed at enthusiasts. The longer effective focal length and fast 10FPS burst speed are complemented by a huge 32.5MP CMOS image sensor which was once the highest resolution of any APS-C camera.

It would be nice to see 4K DCI on this camera but 4K UHD more than keeps up with the rest of its class and is suitable for most shooters. A 220,000 RGB and IR metering sensor powers the iTR focus tracking, allowing you to keep fast-moving subjects sharp even when you're moving the camera. You can shoot at 120fps for slow-motion movies, although when doing this, you won't benefit from continuous AF.

The 90D uses Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system so even when using live view mode, autofocus won't be impacted, much like a mirrorless camera.

The camera feels chunky and robust to the touch, with lots of space to comfortably grip and change settings simultaneously. We would like to see two memory card slots; there is certainly enough room for another and it would provide extra peace of mind on a shoot, but we can't have it all.


Canon 5D Mark IV review: image shows Canon 5D Mark IV

(Image credit: Kavi Shah)
This is the best choice for any pro photographers who need reliability and speed

Specifications

Sensor details: 36 x 24 mm CMOS
Megapixels: 30.4MP
Lens mount: EF (excludes EF-S, EF-M lenses)
Screen details: 3.2” LCD 1620K dots
Max burst speed: 7FPS
Max video resolution: 4K DCI

Reasons to buy

+
Pro-level image quality
+
Excellent autofocusing system 

Reasons to avoid

-
Too expensive for beginners
-
Big and heavy full frame camera 

Despite being released over five years ago, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is still the chosen tool of many professionals and is often described as a 'workhorse' thanks to its great build quality and versatility. It is a must for its quality alone as it captures 30.4MP stills and shoots in 4K DCI video for cinema-like movie quality.

A large, detailed rear screen complements the bright optical viewfinder (although we wish it had a tilting screen), and peripherals can be attached with USB 3.0, HDMI out, and headphone outputs. It also features a microphone input, a flash connection port, and WiFi and NFC technology to facilitate wireless shooting and easy image sharing.

In our 5D Mark IV review, we surmised that, although on the pricey side,  it is ideal for enthusiasts and pro photographers seeking an all-rounder that handles well.


The rear of the 6D Mk II

(Image credit: Tantse Walter)
A solid camera that feels nice in the hand and boasts good weathering sealing for use in inclement weather

Specifications

Sensor details: 35.9 x 24.0 mm CMOS
Megapixels: 26.2MP
Lens mount: EF (excludes EF-S, EF-M lenses)
Screen details: 3” LCD, 1040K dots
Max burst speed: 6.5FPS
Max video resolution: Full HD

Reasons to buy

+
Small form factor for full frame
+
Good Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity 

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacking 4K video recording
-
Dynamic range could be better 

The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is a benchmark DSLR for Canon. It sits comfortably between affordable entry-level and higher-priced professional models and can produce close-up photographs with dazzling detail.

Photographers who like to push the limits of the entry-level versions can exploit the integrated weather and dust sealing features and take advantage of slightly elevated, but not exceptional burst shoot speeds of up to 6.5FPS.

In our 6D Mark II review, we found it to be nicely ergonomic with a good hand grip, easy-to-use round buttons, dials and thumbwheels, and the body has well-rounded edges for comfort. The vari-angled touch screen is great for composing shots at awkward angles and feels less intrusive when trying to capture candid shots. Even when the lighting isn't favorable, the clarity and detail produced in images is pleasing to photographers old and new.

The Dual Pixel CMOS AF smoothly adjusts focus when shooting video and there's a five-axis digital image stabilization to aid handheld shooting. It can capture 4K time-lapses thanks to the 26.2MP image resolution, but unfortunately, movie resolution tops out at 1080p 60FPS which is the only real letdown to an otherwise great intermediate-level camera.


Nikon D7500 on a tripod showing deep grip to hold

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
This flagship DX Nikon DSLR shoots video and stills equally brilliantly, a great all-rounder

Specifications

Sensor details: 23.5 mm x 15.7 mm CMOS
Megapixels: 20.9MP
Lens mount: F-mount DX
Screen details: 3.2” LCD, 922K dots
Max burst speed: 8FPS
Max video resolution: 4K UHD

Reasons to buy

+
Inexpensive crop sensor DSLR body
+
Wide ISO sensitivity range 

Reasons to avoid

-
Low stills resolution
-
Tilting rear screen sometimes restrictive 

Engineered for photographers who want to take their photography skills up a notch, the D7500 is Nikon's flagship DX (crop sensor) camera body. It has a large, 3.2-inch rear tilting LCD, making it helpful when shooting at awkward shooting angles. It's also a touchscreen that makes composing and shooting a breeze with as few clicks as possible.

It's suitable for some sports and wildlife photography thanks to the 8FPS maximum burst speed and the 20.9MP CMOS image sensor is more than enough to shoot 4K UHD video. This camera is protected from the elements as its all-around weather sealing prevents water and dust ingress.

In our D7500 review, we liked the button layout which feels professional and makes good use of the space available on the body. We also like the large touch screen which is very responsive and easy to use, and the high ISO handling impressed us.


Canon's Rebel SL3 is an excellent choice for beginners

(Image credit: Tantse Walter)
A high quality APS-C image sensor and small form factor make this an ideal camera for beginners

Specifications

Sensor details: 22.3 mm x 14.9 mm CMOS
Megapixels: 24.1MP
Lens mount: EF and EF-S mount
Screen details: 3” LCD, 1040K dots
Max burst speed: 5FPS
Max video resolution: 4K UHD

Reasons to buy

+
Good stills and video resolution
+
Billed as world's lightest DSLR with movable screen 

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited AF points when using optical viewfinder
-
Maximum burst speed is average 

While cheaper entry-level crop sensor cameras are available, the tiny Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D is the best, with a 24.1MP CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 image processor that produces vivid, minimal-noise photos. There are only nine autofocus points across the viewfinder, however, engaging the live view option on the vari-angle touchscreen on the rear improves this to 143 via camera automatic selection.

This Canon also has a -4EV autofocus working range and a maximum expanded ISO sensitivity of 51200, it's quite a handy camera in low light conditions, especially if you pair it with a lens with built-in image stabilization, we were pleasantly surprised when we used it for some very basic astrophotography.

In our Canon Rebel SL3/250D review, our verdict was that it is an excellent easy-to-use camera, which is compact and durable and would be best suited to newcomers who want to shoot a range of styles.


Image shows a front view of the Nikon D3500.

(Image credit: Jacob Little)
Excellent highly detailed images and Full HD movie recording

Specifications

Sensor details: 23.5 mm x 15.6 mm CMOS
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens mount: F-mount DX
Screen details: 3” LCD, 921K dots
Max burst speed: 5FPS
Max video resolution: Full HD

Reasons to buy

+
Small and lightweight design
+
Inexpensive solution for beginners 

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited to Full HD video resolution
-
Fixed rear screen is limiting 

The D3500 is Nikon's cheapest DSLR and is aimed at the beginner market. It is lightweight and small, but comfortable to hold, with a solid, deep grip that looks and feels professional. Its APS-C CMOS sensor kicks out a generous 24.2MP stills resolution which is impressive for this entry-level beauty.

In our D3500 review, our verdict was that although it lacks features found higher up in the range, it's hard to argue with for the price you pay.

While movie recording is limited to Full HD at 60FPS, the dynamic range is good and the rear 3-inch LCD is clear and bright with 921K dots providing ample detail. Paired with one of the myriad DX zoom lenses, especially one that has Vibration Reduction, anyone new to photography should be able to get great sharp snaps without any issues.


How we test the best DSLR cameras

To guarantee you're getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best cameras to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every camera through a rigorous review to fully test each product. Each camera is reviewed based on many aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as an optical instrument and its performance in the field.

Each camera is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each camera and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use. For example, comparing a 60MP full-frame mirrorless camera to a sleek little crop-sensor DSLR wouldn't be appropriate, though each camera might be the best-performing product in its own class.

We look at how easy each camera is to operate, whether it contains the latest up-to-date imaging technology, whether the cameras can shoot high-quality stills photos and high-resolution video and also suggest if a particular camera would benefit from any additional kit to give you the best viewing experience possible.

With complete editorial independence, Space.com are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on cameras, whether you should purchase an instrument or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.

Summary

This list rounds up the best DSLRs available from stand-out entry-level cameras that are perfect for the budget-conscious or beginner photographer to high-end enthusiasts and professionals.

Make sure you carefully consider your requirements and ensure you seek out a camera to suit your current and future needs. Whether that is high-resolution stills imaging, a wide dynamic range, or crisp 4K video recording. It is equally important to remember that the range of lens choice is crucially important when choosing any interchangeable lens camera so do take a look at the scope of lenses available for your favorite camera before purchasing it.

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Jason Parnell-Brookes
Channel Editor

Jason Parnell-Brookes is an award-winning photographer, educator and writer based in the UK. He won the Gold Prize award in the Nikon Photo Contest 2018/19 beating over 90,000 other entrants and was named Digital Photographer of the Year in 2014. Jason is a Masters graduate and has a wealth of academic and real-world experience in a variety of photographic disciplines from astrophotography and wildlife to fashion and portraiture. Now the Channel Editor for Cameras and Skywatching at Space.com his speciality is in low light optics and camera systems.

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